Written for The Argo by Ethan Herzinger
This past Friday , November 13th, hard rock legend AC/DC released their 16th international studio album “Power Up”. Prior to the recent release, AC/DC’s future and status as a band was in shambles. Back in 2014, the band had to cope with the news of Malcolm Young’s permanent departure/retirement when he was diagnosed with dementia. “Black Ice”, which was released in 2008, was Malcolm’s final album with the band. In November of 2017, Malcolm Young passed away at the age of 64.
It was a crushing blow to AC/DC, their legions of fans, and most of all for Angus Young who was his younger brother. When the band teased two new singles from the upcoming albums, “Shot In The Dark” and “Realize”, I was skeptical. I have always been a fan of AC/DC and have grown up with their music; they will always hold a special place in my heart. However, another part of me wondered, without the driving force of Malcolm Young’s rhythm playing, would the band ever be able to capture the pure hard rock sound that has made them such a household name?
Rock or Bust was released in 2015 and had some decent songs, but a sub-part production mix. This was crucial for me when reviewing this album. “Power Up” is the band’s best since 2008’s Black Ice, even to go as far back as the 30 year old release of “The Razor’s Edge”. For starters, Stevie Young, nephew of the late Malcolm Young, has a fantastic rhythm and respects his uncle’s craft. The real winners here, however, are Angus Young and lead singer Brian Johnson. Johnson’s vocals have his trademark screech and Angus can still crank out blistering solos and a powerful sound with his Gibson Sg and Marshall amp.
The lead single “Shot In The Dark”, along with “Demon Fire” and “Realize”, all capture what AC/DC is known for. “Shot In The Dark”, and “Realize” showcase Young’s tasty and blistering blues playing while “Demon Fire” is a throwback to classics such as “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “Shake A Leg.”
Some critics have cited AC/DC as a band that will never evolve musically or lyrically. AC/DC has been running on two fuels their entire career; a killer hard rock, in-your-face rhythm and blistering guitar solos with lyrics that signify the ultimate party lifestyle . When you listen to AC/DC that is what you’re in for. With 2020 being such a disaster of a year, we needed this album. Welcome back boys!